THE NEW DE LA HOYA

Os­car’s cousin daz­zles against Ca­ballero to sal­vage an oth­er­wise drab un­der­card

Boxing News - - Action -

WHILE Joseph Diaz Jnr’s some­what muted 12-round points vic­tory over Mex­ico’s Rafael Rivera was the of­fi­cial chief sup­port at the T-mo­bile Arena, it was the ex­cel­lent per­for­mance of Diego De La Hoya that stole the un­der­card’s head­lines.

De­spite be­ing the cousin of Golden Boy Pro­mo­tions boss, Os­car De La Hoya, Diego came into his 10-rounder against former IBF ban­tamweight cham­pion Randy Ca­ballero as the un­der­dog, and with­out the ex­pe­ri­ence of his rival. How­ever, he was some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion from the start and went on to score an en­ter­tain­ing, and largely onesided points vic­tory.

Show­ing off ex­cel­lent foot­work, and a nat­u­ral abil­ity to find the right punches at the right time, De La Hoya, fight­ing out of Mex­i­cali, Mex­ico, zipped in and out of range to be­witch Ca­ballero. A jar­ring right hand set the tone about a minute into the ac­tion and, as early as the sec­ond ses­sion, the Cal­i­for­nian’s fea­tures started to swell.

A jar­ring right stag­gered Ca­ballero in the fifth, he was wob­bled again in the sev­enth, and a left hand in the ninth and fol­low-up bar­rage had the former cham­pion in real trou­ble. Golden Boy’s Eric Gomez de­scribed Ca­ballero as “like a son” to them be­fore the con­test but it’s De La Hoya who does them proud. Scores of 100-90, and two of 98-92 con­firm De La Hoya’s grad­u­a­tion to world class in the su­per-ban­tamweight divi­sion. Robert Byrd was the ref­eree.

Mean­while, Diaz Jnr is now chas­ing a shot at WBC feather­weight cham­pion Gary Rus­sell Jnr and pretty much did as he pleased against the tough but crude Rivera, who stepped in for the in­jured Jorge Lara just three days be­fore the fight.

Lively and quick on his feet, south­paw Diaz Jnr dis­pensed with the jab for large parts of the Tony Weeks-of­fi­ci­ated bout, in­stead bur­row­ing into punch­ing range with his right low, and his left cocked and ready. An eye-catch­ing right hand in the fifth brought a hum of ap­pre­ci­a­tion from the crowd (which was still plenty short of the 22,358 that watched Golovkin and Canelo), and a de­light­ful straight left straight­ened his rival in the sixth.

Rivera, from Ti­juana, Mex­ico, en­joyed some suc­cess in the ninth – a left hook opened up Diaz Jnr be­fore a right clat­tered home – but the lop­sided scores of 120-108 and 119-109 (twice) told the right story.

Be­fore his bout, lanky light­weight star­let Ryan Martin spoke of be­ing tested and prov­ing him­self on the big stage. Well, against Mex­i­can hard­nut Fran­cisco Rojo the former cer­tainly hap­pened, but the only thing proved was that the judg­ing was just as bad fur­ther down the bill as it was at the top. Martin stole the split de­ci­sion via scores of 91-98, 94-93 and 95-94.

The ver­dict was a per­plex­ing one, with the two scores that handed Martin vic­tory look­ing way off.

Rojo dic­tated the pace early, stalk­ing his favoured rival and bowl­ing over right hands – some ac­cu­rate, some way­ward. Martin ap­peared to con­cede the opening five rounds be­fore getting to grips with his pesky rival and, in the sixth, was swat­ting him reg­u­larly. The Chat­tanooga res­i­dent burst into life again in the sev­enth, an im­pres­sive four-shot vol­ley that cul­mi­nated with a right up­per­cut-left hook shook Rojo.

But the re­cov­ery of Martin – nurs­ing a swollen face – stalled in the eighth, and in the ninth he lost a point from ref­eree Rus­sell Mora for fail­ing to keep his punches above the belt­line. The fi­nal round was lively, as the two ex­changed shots, but it was Roja who looked the fresher and de­serv­ing of the de­ci­sion. Such things mat­tered lit­tle at the T-mo­bile Arena, though, and it was Martin who had his hands raised.

There was dis­ap­point­ment for Bri­tian’s golden girl Ni­cola Adams, who was sched­uled to make her American pro­fes­sional de­but and open up the bill against Hun­gary’s Alexan­dra Vlajk. But com­pli­ca­tions with Vlak’s blood test re­sulted in the con­test be­ing called off just an hour be­fore it was due to start.

THE VER­DICT De La Hoya a star in the mak­ing.

Photos: TOM HO­GAN/HO­GAN PHOTOS/GOLDEN BOY PRO­MO­TIONS

THE GRAD­U­ATE: De La Hoya [right] turns in a vir­tu­oso show­ing

BOSSING IT: Diaz dis­torts the face of the brave Rivera

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